FEW would contest Hull FC prop Scott Taylor’s view that he has done all he can to earn a place against New Zealand in Saturday’s Ladrokes Four Nations opener.
Whether that is enough to see the forward, who impressed so well on his Test debut in France at the weekend, make the cut remains to be seen, but that is more down to the quality of his peers than anything he may have done wrong previously.
Taylor, as he had done all season with his East Yorkshire club, tore into the opposition pack both in defence and attack during the 40-6 win and clearly proved that he has international quality.
All things being equal he would face the Kiwis in Huddersfield, but England coach Wayne Bennett has so many options available to him: Chris Hill, the Warrington Wolves captain who pipped Taylor’s Hull to the League Leaders’ Shield and reached Old Trafford, was rested against France while Sam Burgess, the new England captain, served a one-game ban.
Furthermore, Wigan Warriors second-row John Bateman is also to come back into the mix meaning Mike Cooper, who played there on Saturday, could be available to move up to his more customary front-role, too.
Add in the fact that Canterbury Bulldogs’ James Graham, who started alongside Taylor, is a certainty, as is George Burgess off the bench, and it becomes clear the Yorkshireman has real competition.
Granted, Sam Burgess is likely to start at loose forward, but that frees up his brother Tom – who played 13 in Avignon – to revert to prop as well. So it goes on.
“He can only pick 17 players, and as soon as I got the chance to come into training I ripped in and gave it my all,” explained Taylor.
“I tried giving it my all on the field on Saturday, and I’m going to give it my all in training this week.
“If I don’t make the 17 this week then I know I’ve given it my all and I’ll keep doing that and hopefully it’ll be good enough.”
On his debut, the 25-year-old former Hull KR and Wigan Warriors forward, said: “I enjoyed it.
“The legs felt quite heavy after the first 15 minutes, with the emotion of it all as your debut and trying to rip in and impress.
“I enjoyed every minute and they’re a great set of lads.
“I don’t think the scoreboard reflects the game because France gave it to us in that game and I was feeling sore after.
“They’ve got some big fellas and ripped in. I was over the moon with the win and more importantly how the team played.
“France got stuck in, didn’t hold anything back and that’s how a Test match should be – I expect nothing less.
“I loved it; they’re the games I want to be part of and hopefully I can get another crack at some point in the Four Nations.”
Taylor won the Challenge Cup with hometown Hull in his first season since switching from Wigan and also earned a place in the Super League Dream Team alongside Hill.
It was a surprise to some that he was the only Hull player selected in Bennett’s 24-man Four Nations squad, but he is certainly proving his worth.
“The boys have knitted together really good,” said Taylor, who had a brief experience with England in the 2012 non-Test game against the Exiles.
“I’ve had the pleasure of playing with a few of them before and it’s great to be around them again.
“The coaching staff have done a brilliant job and our captain and vice-captain Sam (Burgess) and James (Graham) have really got the boys together.
“We’ve had a few team things to do together, and Bennett gives us a bit of a free role – he’s put his trust in us. If you break that trust then you’re out, but we have a really good camaraderie and every one of them in there are top blokes.”
Taylor is thriving under legendary Australian chief Bennett, the 66-year-old who is looking to bring the national side their first major success since Great Britain won the 1972 World Cup.
“He’s different to any other coach I’ve had before,” he said.
“He’s just so honest and knows how a mind thinks – as well as a top coach he’s like a top psychologist as well.
“He knows what the boys are thinking, what works and what doesn’t work and he knows how to get the best out of someone.
“He knows all the little one per cents that will add up and make a difference and give us a crack at winning this Four Nations.”
If Taylor does get the nod this weekend, it will be a little easier for his family, from Beverley, to see him in action at John Smith’s Stadium compared to last Saturday.
“They were looking at flights, but we couldn’t book it a few weeks ago because we didn’t know if I was playing and I didn’t want them to waste their money,” he explained.
“I only found out last Wednesday, so I just told them to leave it, ‘chill out and watch it at home, and I know you’re there in spirit’.
“Hopefully I’ll get a crack in the Four Nations and they’ll all be there. If I get a chance to play any game in England they’ll all be there, trust me.
“It’s a bit of a difficult one not being able to fly straight here, having to go to Paris and get a train across.
“I know they were all watching back home, and my phone went mental straight after the match so I knew they were all proud.”
Bradford’s former Ireland international Kurt Haggerty has hung up his boots at 27 to join the coaching staff of League One newcomers Toronto.
The former Widnes and Leigh forward, who had a year left on his two-year deal with the Bulls, had already started coaching with St Helens amateur club Pilkington Recs and wants to make it his career.